Dear Dr. Fox: My dog Sami, an 11-year-old rescue (sort of resembles an Australian cattle dog), was chewing on her front leg and there seemed to be a tumor of sorts.

Our vet biopsied the growth, and fortunately it was benign. However, the dog seemed to be miserable, and other sores developed on her legs. A food allergy was suggested as a cause. I read online about chicken being a culprit, and after reading the ingredients on many dog food products, I learned that most contain chicken or chicken parts. The vet said this is probably because chicken is a very inexpensive way for manufacturers to add protein to their products.

I switched to a kibble that is chicken-free, and I make Sami’s other food using your recipe. Now, after about a year, Sami’s “tumor” has disappeared and her legs are lesion-free. I realize this may not be the cause of many dogs’ itching and self-mutilation problems, but this seemed to me, for Sami, to be better than the myriad drugs that were prescribed. And it cost me nothing to change to chicken-free food.

Thank you for your help and concern for our animals. M.H., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Dear M.H.: I very much appreciate you sharing your dog’s saga with a skin condition that was eventually resolved by removing chicken from the diet. Dogs’ skin is one of the first indicators of dietary ingredient intolerance or food allergy, which should always be considered, rather than simply treating the symptoms with steroids and immuno-suppressant drugs that at best give temporary relief but can have long-term harmful consequences.

VA slow to pair dogs

with vets

Only 19 military veterans have been paired with shelter dogs through a Dept. of Veterans Affairs program intended to help veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientific evidence that dogs can improve human mental health is thin, according to the VA’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Michael Fallon, and department officials are concerned about unintended consequences (New York Times, July 17).

Knowing the documented benefits of dogs for people suffering from PTSD, I am surprised at this report. Studies continue to confirm the stress-reducing benefits of animal companionship and even short-term contact, as per the following story.

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United Feature Syndicate

Write to Dr. Fox c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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